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The world trade organization. European financial sector
Thе World Trade Organization came into being in 1995. The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established in the wake of the Second World War. So the multilateral trading system that was originally set up under GATT is already 50 years old. The past 50 years have seen an exceptional growth in world trade. Merchandise exports grew on average by 6% annually. GATT and the WTO have helped to create a strong and prosperous trading system contributing to unprecedented growth. The system was developed through a series of trade negotiations, or rounds, held under GATT. The first rounds dealt mainly with tariff reductions but later negotiations included other areas such as anti-dumping and non-tariff measures. The agreement was reached on telecommunications services, with 69 governments agreeing to wide-ranging liberalization measures that went beyond those agreed in the Uruguay Round. In the same year 40 governments successfully concluded negotiations for tariff-free trade in information technology products, and 70 members concluded a financial services deal covering more than 95% of trade in banking, insurance, securities and financial information.
The WTO’s overriding objective is to help trade flow smoothly, freely, fairly, and predictably. It does by:
Administering trade agreements
Acting as a forum for trade negotiations
Settling trade disputes
Assisting developing countries in trade policy issues, through technical assistance and training programmes.
Cooperating with other international organizations
The WTO has more than 130 members, accounting for 90% of world trade. Over 30 others are negotiating membership. Decisions are made by the entire membership and typically by consensus. A majority vote is also possible but it has never been used in the WTO, and was extremely rare under the WTO predecessor, GATT. The WTO’s agreements have been ratifies in all member’s parliaments. The WTO’s top level decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference which meets at least once every two years. Below this is the General council (normally ambassadors and heads of delegation in several Geneva, but sometimes officials sent from member’s capitals) which meets several times a year in Geneva head-quarters. The General council also meets as the Trade Policy Review Body and the Dispute Settlement Body. At the next level, the Goods Council, Services Council and Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council report to the General Council. Numerous specialized committees, working groups and working parties deal with the individual agreements and other arese such as the environment, development, membership applications, regional trade agreements, relationship between trade and investment, the interaction between trade and competition policy and transparency in government procurement.
The Foreign Exchange Markets, where people buy and sell foreign currency, also referred to as the "Forex" or "FX" market, is the largest financial market in the world, 30 times larger than the combined volume of all US equity markets.
Currencies are traded in pairs, for example Euro/US Dollar or US Dollar/Japanese Yen.
Foreign money held by a government to support its own currency. About 5% of daily turnover is from companies and governments that buy or sell products and services in a foreign country or must convert profits made in foreign into their domestic currency. The other 95% is trading for profit, or speculation.
For speculators, the best trading opportunities are with the most commonly traded (and therefore most liquid) currencies, called "the Majors". Today, more than 85% of all daily transactions involves trading of the Majors, which include the US Dollar, Japanese Yen, Euro, British Pound, Swiss Franc, Canadian Dollar and Australian Dollar.
Forex trading begins each day in Sydney, and moves around the blobe as the business day begin in each financial center, first to Tokyo, London, and New York,. It's a 24-hour market, and investors can respond to currency fluctuations caused by economic, social and political events at the time they occur - day or night.
The Forex market is considered an over the counter (OTC) or interbank market, due to the fact that transactions are conducted between two counterparts over the telephone or via an electronic network.
Countertrade means exchanging goods or services which are paid for, in whole or part, with other goods or services, rather than with money. A monetary valuation can however be used in counter trade for accounting purposes.
Countertrade also occurs when countries lack sufficient hard currency, or when other types of market trade are impossible.
For example Coburn Tool corporation, an American manufacturer of large and small machine tools and parts, gears, valves, and bearings, was a major supplier to industries and companies world-wide. Because of the ride of the U.S. dollar on exchange market and serious financial crises in many of the countries in which Coburn did business, sales, particularly to Latin America, began to decline.
A major market for Coburn’s products had until recently been Brazil. For instance, in 1980 sales to thet country’s industries were $640000, but by 1983 sales had declined to just $183000.
This serious problem seemed to have little solution because of Brazil’s chronic credit problems and lack of foreign exchange.
In the fall 1984, however, a unique proposition was received at Coburn’s head office from a Brazilian commodities broker, Companhia Internacional de Comercio (CIC). CIC’s offer was essentially this: in exchange for US $400000 in assorted gears, Coburn would receive the equivalent in Brazizilan shoes, which it could sell in the American market. Well, that’s is a good example of countertrade, when because of the lack of currency, one company offered other to exchange gears for shoes.
Role of countertrade in the world market.
In any real economy, bartering occurs all the time, even if it is not the main means to acquire goods and services. The volume of countertrade is growing. In 1972, it was estimated that countertrade was used by business and governments in 15 countries; in 1979, 27 countries; by the start of 1990s, around 100 countries. A large part of countertrade has involved sales of military equipment (weaponry, vehicles and installations).
More than 80 countries nowadays regularly use or require countertrade exchanges. Officials of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) organization claimed that countertrade accounts for around 5% of the world trade. The British Department of Trade and Industry has suggested 15%, while some scholars even believe it to be closer to 30%.
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